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Yahoo Sports Boxer of the Decade

Kevin Iole
Combat columnist
Canelo Alvarez, Floyd Mayweather and Andre Ward are the candidates for Yahoo Sports Boxer of the Decade.

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When Floyd Mayweather signed to fight Manny Pacquiao in 2015 after more than six years of haggling, most in the boxing community rejoiced. It was the kind of match, boxer versus slugger, No. 1 versus No. 2, that the sport’s fans dreamed of seeing.

There was, though, a small but vocal contingent that wasn’t all that thrilled. The bout, they argued, was well past its sell-by date and wouldn’t come close to the classic it would have been had they fought five or six years earlier.

Pacquiao, that thinking went, was clearly over the hill. 

As evidence, they’d point to a 2012 knockout loss to Juan Manuel Marquez as proof that “Pacman” had seen better days.

Mayweather, as expected, went on to dominate the fight and won going away.

But more than four years after it happened, a funny thing was discovered: Pacquiao is hardly washed up. Since losing to Mayweather, Pacquiao has gone 5-1 and has beaten Timothy Bradley, Jessie Vargas, Lucas Matthysse, Adrien Broner and Keith Thurman. His only loss was by controversial decision to Jeff Horn.

No one believes Pacquiao is washed up now and there is hope that in 2020 he may fight unified welterweight champion Errol Spence Jr.

It’s just another example of how great Mayweather was during his career. He was so dominant that he made elite fighters look washed up and over the hill.

It’s one of the many reasons that he’s the runaway choice as the Yahoo Sports Boxer of the Decade for 2010-19.

Mayweather went 10-0 in the 10 years, though his last win, over UFC fighter Conor McGregor, shouldn’t really count. McGregor was making his pro boxing debut and had next-to-no chance to win a boxing match against one of the legends of the sport.

But other than McGregor and Pacquiao, Mayweather defeated Shane Mosley, Victor Ortiz, Robert Guerrero, Miguel Cotto, Canelo Alvarez, Marcos Maidana twice and Andre Berto. Mosley was just elected to the International Boxing Hall of Fame and it is no stretch to say that Cotto, Alvarez and Pacquiao will be, as well. If they are, that means that there were four Hall of Famers and nine reigning or ex-world champions among the nine boxers Mayweather faced in the decade.

The only two fighters who come close to him are Alvarez, who is the runner-up, and Andre Ward. Alvarez went 23-1-1 with the loss to Mayweather and a draw with Gennadiy Golovkin. He won world title belts at super welterweight, middleweight, super middleweight and light heavyweight.

Ward went 11-0 in the decade with two wins over Sergey Kovalev and impressive wins over Carl Froch and Chad Dawson, as well. 

Nobody, though, came close to beating the quality of fighter as decisively as Mayweather did. Pacquiao and Alvarez were each considered pound-for-pound No. 1 at points in the decade and Mayweather routed them. Some will point to the fact that Alvarez was too young for Mayweather, and perhaps that is true, but that’s trying to have it both ways when complaining most of the opponents he faced were over the hill.

Beyond Mayweather, Alvarez and Ward, Yahoo Sports also considered Pacquiao, former flyweight champion Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez and WBO welterweight champion Terence Crawford for the honor.

An argument could be made for each against the others, but there is no rational argument for any of them to be put ahead of Mayweather.

Mayweather is the Boxer of the Decade, and it’s not even close.